Small firms welcome rubber stamping for apprenticeship group

Mike Cherry

Small businesses have welcomed the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education decision to set up a dedicated small business stakeholder forum.

The Federation of Small Businesses has been calling for the change as a way for the IfA to better understand and address the concerns of small firms about the quality of apprenticeships. The forum will be made up of a mix of small business employers.

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Small businesses are champions of apprenticeships as they are a great way to tackle skills shortages that often affect smaller businesses and to give young people, their first step into employment.

“Since the introduction of the reforms back in 2017, small firms have worryingly started to disengage with the system. Although the 2017 changes were designed to improve the quality of apprenticeships, many small businesses don’t believe they have.

“Our own research shows that of those small businesses that employed apprentices both before and after the 2017 reforms, over a quarter (27%) say the changes have had a negative impact on their business.

“A key plank of our agenda to reverse this was the need for the IfA to be more responsive to the needs of smaller businesses. It is absolutely vital that small firms have a voice in shaping the apprenticeship system at this level or we risk seeing more of them turning their backs on apprenticeships.

“I am delighted that the IfA has recognised this and announced a dedicated small business stakeholder forum. We look forward to actively engaging with IfA to ensure that smaller businesses can continue to be at the forefront of championing apprenticeships.”